Iraq’s foreign minister took his government’s demands Tuesday to the U.N. Security Council, where he sought the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Iraqi territory following a deadly strike on a vacation resort that Baghdad has blamed on Turkish forces.
“We denounce the illegal presence of Turkish military forces on Iraqi territory,” Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein told council members.
The foreign minister traveled to New York to attend the emergency council meeting. It follows a July 20 strike on a resort in the Kurdish governorate of Dohuk that killed nine civilians, including three children.
Baghdad has blamed Ankara and demanded compensation and an international investigation.
Turkey has denied the attack, which occurred along its border with Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Ankara says militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, terrorist group carried it out.
“Let us make it very clear: the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq are breached by terrorist organizations, not by Türkiye,” Deputy U.N. Ambassador Öncü Keçeli said, referring to his country by its Turkish name.
The military wing of the PKK has denied carrying out the attack and blamed Turkey.
Iraq’s foreign minister said a national committee was established to investigate the attack. It collected evidence at the site, including fragments of the weapons used, which he said were determined to be of the type used by Turkish forces that operate in the area.
Hussein called on the Security Council to adopt a resolution compelling Turkey to withdraw all of its military forces from Iraq, of which he told reporters there are about 4,000 operating without Baghdad’s agreement.
“If Turkey refuses, then Turkey should be held responsible,” he said. “Turkey must stop bringing about suffering against the people of Iraq.”
Ankara has been fighting the PKK for decades in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the Kurdish separatists took up arms in 1984.
Turkey’s envoy said part of the problem is that Iraq’s government is not in control of all of its territory and that terrorist safe havens have developed in hundreds of villages in the north.
“We estimate that the PKK controls an area of at least 10,000 square kilometers in Iraq,” Keçeli said. He said Baghdad has been either unwilling or unable to fight the terrorists.
“You can’t castigate your neighbor for using its right to self-defense,” he concluded.
As the meeting ended, Keçeli said he had just received word that four mortars struck near the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. He said initial reports are that no one was injured.
“This is yet another flagrant attack and yet another example of the lack of control of Iraqi authorities on their own territory,” the Turkish envoy said. “Once again, we call on Iraqi authorities to avoid escalatory language and concentrate on cooperating against all terrorist organizations.”
Iraqi’s foreign minister said he would verify what happened and if it was true, his government would condemn it in the strongest terms.
For its part, the Security Council strongly condemned the Dohuk attack in a statement on Monday, however it stopped short of attributing blame.
The council urged cooperation with the Iraqi government and other relevant authorities in investigating the attack. It also reiterated its support for Iraq’s independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.